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Review: L-ISA Studio

We dive into L-Acoustics immersive software
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Over the past decade, artists have constantly looked for ways to bridge the gap between the studio and the stage. For many, this includes some form of using Ableton Live and a variety of setups. But how does one take it further, and create a truly immersive audio experience? Enter L-Acoustics L-ISA Studio software. Utilizing cutting-edge technology, users can perform groundbreaking performances utilizing spatial audio like never before. Although they are more known for their live audio setups, L-Acoustics decided they wanted to bring their immersive sound art to the masses, and thus, L-ISA Studio was born. 

L-ISA Studio

L-ISA Studio

KEY FEATURES

- L‑ISA Studio is a software suite that offers an L‑ISA 3D control interface and audio processing, on a personal computer. Through L‑ISA Studio’s binaural engine, users can produce natural, immersive 3D audio on headphones with head tracking – or up to 12 loudspeakers in any studio.

- L‑ISA Studio integrates with every major digital audio workstation on the market so musicians can keep their preferred creation process.
It includes an audio bridge to remove the need for an external soundcard

- Using object-based mixing, users can create a variety of listening experiences either for headphones or live speaker setups

3D View

3D View

MY EXPERIENCE

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When the concept was first presented to me, my first thought was that it was similar to the software from another big name in the professional audio game, which requires quite a bit of learning. I was fortunate enough to be invited up to the L-Acoustics office in Westlake Village to see it in action. I have to say their hospitality was superb. Their explanations were thorough and the demos were excellent. But, obviously, when you work for the company and use the software every day, using a complex program is a breeze. 

The question now is, how does this translate outside of their office? To be honest, the setup might be a bit challenging. There are a few different plugins and steps to get going, and you need to get the routing correct to even hear anything. After that, you're ready to create. I use Ableton Live. 

The first piece of software is L-ISA Processor. It allows you to configure up to 96 virtual audio inputs (fed directly from virtual DAW outputs) and allows for up to 12 channels of playback. When working in headphones, you'd change the playback to 2 channels. 

Using L-ISA Controller, you place your objects within 96 channels of audio in your virtual surround space. Utilizing this will allow you to do most of the work from the comfort of your studio, before ever stepping on stage. 

It's hard to explain the actual sensation of what you experience when using the software. Closing your eyes and having sounds fly around the virtual space coming closer, moving downwards, and every other which way feels like you're in some sort of crazy dream or trip. Pads come alive and completely engulf you. Sending little percussion hits across the sound stage is like hearing shooting stars. It's nuts. These examples are somewhat on the extreme side, but using the software in a more subtle way helps create a movement that adds a totally unique feeling to your music.

Soundscape screen

Soundscape screen

FINAL THOUGHTS

I make techno, and in the more traditional sense of 4x4 beats, using L-ISA Studio seems to be most effective when used subtly. Especially since the music is more situated for the club. Now, if this is being used for more soundscapes and such, I'd say this is probably the perfect tool to make your music truly come alive in ways you can't imagine until you've tried it. One downside though, is that it can be CPU hungry. 

L-Acoustics L-ISA Studio starts at 29 euros a month. Click here for more info.

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